Expressway Deck I

Roadway Test 3287

I’ve begun work on building the deck of the elevated expressway. As mentioned last time, the expressway is a four foot long structure with a roadway assembly (road, guardrails, signs and streetlights) made of styrene, which rests atop a narrow winding strip of plywood held up by 1/4-inch threaded rod sheathed in one inch PVC tubing. So far, all I have is the plywood, and the beginnings of the roadway assembly, which I’m calling the “deck” for short.

I’m not really a scratchbuilder at heart. I want to run trains, and I prefer to custom paint and lightly modify existing ready-to-plant structures, or kits if I must, to making things from scratch. But some structures really don’t have a decent kit version, and this won’t be my last scratch-built structure. I’m doing this build as my project for the JNS Forum’s 2011 Project Party contest, in the hopes that this will motivate me to actually get it done in a few months, instead of dragging out for a year.

Construction is detailed on this week’s entry on my JNS Forum 2011 Contest page, but to summarize I needed to revise the design a bit from my initial plans, to make space for wiring. And I managed to get about halfway through building the first (6” long) section in a week. I also learned a few things in the process.

The structure basically comprises a supporting frame, a structural surface (presently made of two side sections with a separate median glued between them) and a removable roadway surface, which can be taken off for painting. The structural surface is also used as the attachment point for things like guardrails, roadsigns, etc.

Road Segment Frame 3277 Roadway Test II 3282

One thing I learned was that this was overly complex. I’m going to keep the frame, but the two sections will be replaced with one big one drilled where I need the lamp post socket to go. The median will then simply be glued atop this, simplifying things a bit.

The roadway surface will still be separate, as I like the idea of being able to repaint it in the future if my idea of what it should look like changes. And, while it’s presently made of sheet styrene, I’ve thought about making some photo enlargements (from Google Earth, for example) as an alternative approach. This value of this is that I can reproduce more complex road markings with a minimum of effort. That’s not so critical for the expressway, but I’ll likely use a similar method for constructing my streets, and the expressway serves as a test-bed for things I’ll do later for that.

Another thing I learned is that cutting parallelograms out of thick (2mm) sheet styrene using the “scribe and snap” method is tedious, as you can’t really “snap” it, and need to scribe almost all the way through, which takes about 30 passes along each straight section. I’m going to buy a small modeler’s table saw before I do the rest of the expressway; there’s far too much cutting involved.

I also learned that “white” styrene spray paint is more of what I’d call a beige color, at least when compared to the very white styrene plastic. I only need this for some roadway lines, but it’s still annoying that it’s not more white. I really ought to finish setting up my spray booth and get a new airbrush (the old one was never very good) so I can mix my own colors.
Work progresses on converting the site to RapidWeaver, but there are a lot of pages I want to convert before I make the cut-over, and that’s going slowly. At this rate it’s probably another month before I’ll be ready (and I’ll probably be converting the remaining pages for months afterwards). And between them, the expressway deck and the conversion project are taking almost all of my modeling time, so other projects (like the Tram Layout and the related Tomix signals, to say nothing of the long-delayed DCC electronics update so I can start running trains again) are languishing; I’ll get back to those, but perhaps not as soon as I’d like to).

Other website changes:
- Added stuff related to this to the Diagrams and Construction photo albums.
- Updated the “Page 2l” Construction page with a brief summary.
- Added yet another reservation to the Reservations page (the Keiyō line E231), and moved some things to the Recent Arrivals page.